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Re: “Oakland City Hall

I was one of the first 100 people who had stood in line since Thursday night. Since that night, we had set up an orderly line, and the Oakland police had also seen that a clear direction was needed to establish a goal and plan. Officer Nygen and Lt. Davis set up a map and location where the beginning of the line was, which was directly across from the Federal building. While we waited in line, firefighters from the Oakland Fire Department, had come by, showing their support, wishing us luck, happy to see the determined people in line so soon. This line that had formed was a self –policing, respectful and cooperative group of people, people who know what sacrifices need to be made to selected. By the end of the night, we had a line wrapping around, the corner onto 16th St. By Friday morning; we were unprepared for the travesty that was going to ensue.
Chief Farrell arrived on Friday morning, shocked that there were people showing up so soon. He then had meetings at 230pm to discuss the Line formation situation. At 530 PM an audio announcement was played via megaphone, throughout the night. I stated, “there was no official line, there was going to be 5 separated entry points and for us to go home and return at 5am to for a line and a decision was going to be made by the chief at to the plan by 6am.” No one moved.
By this time they had totally closed off the entire plaza with barricades. And the line was nearly 400 to 500 people long. This line was also still in an orderly fashion until shortly after the announcement was made. Throughout the night there was even a fragrance of weed in the air, and one candidate was arrested for public drunkenness.
We in the line slept a few hours’ huddles together in the cold 30-degree weather and sleeping on concrete and marble, groups of people showed up at 4am started to sit anywhere they wanted. We in the line started to get all our up and take it back to our vehicles. By 6am the entire plaza was surrounded. Our line was still intact but everywhere else is just bodies pressed up against barricades. The Chief did not show up till 7am, and no clear plan was established till 830am. And all that involved was the Chief for the first few hours, randomly selecting people out of the crowd. He had a group of 3 or 4 people push its way into the crown from the barrier and he picked random people. Short people we crushed and pushed out of the way, people were yelling and waving their entrance paper in front of each others faces try to have the chief make some eye contact, and it was a fight nearly. And when the Chief would not select any more people from that section, and some would voice their displeasure, he would punish that section and not come back to it for 2 hours or so. By 11am they had already selected 500 people, but he section where people had lined up originally had only 40 people pulled from that line. The two areas and literally been looted. People were getting desperate. Those who were toward the back of the line pushed they way to the front. Either the most aggressive or lucky made it in. The after a few hours the chief stopped selecting people and another lady started to make selection. Still the same process. Pushing their way into the audience even in to the street onto clay street with visible traffic coming in both directions. And when it was clear that the process was almost over, both myself as well as many other people were running around frank Ogawa Plaza at nearly the same time they were have festivities on Broadway so many more pedestrians were wondering what was going as droves of hopeful applicants ran at full speed from one of the ‘selection points’ to another.
And when it was all done and the two port-o-potties for nearly 3 thousand applicants overflowed with a wonderful stench and light blue river, we were told our process was by the lady with the megaphone and her entourage.
I have been applying to departments for years, and never, in my wildest dreams have I ever even considered a situation such as this. From the start there was a problem from being totally unprepared, uninformed, poor chain of command, marginal if not illegal selection process, and cause for putting the public at risk, creating potential riots, not establishing a clear single entrance point and even causing a fire hazard of all things when all entrance points into Frank Ogawa Plaza were blocked by applicants pressed up against the barriers encompassing the plaza.
Now there are questions… How legal was this process, random selection, like your picking your basketball team on the high school basketball court. Pushing people aside in the crowd like your are a rock star looking for groupies. Disgusting!
Are these the type of people you want to come into the department, showing up late, cutting to the front of the line, smoking weed, and drinking in public, being aggressive, pushy and unsafe. For a career in which we hold such high regard for poise, high moral standard, and respect, you take those guidelines and throw them out the window for what Chief Farrell states” So others can have an equal opportunity for get selected because some of them have jobs and families they have to take time away from.” Well then I guess the other 100-400 people who waited in a nice orderly fashion, in line for two nights in the freezing cold, being respectful, making the sacrifice ‘being away from their jobs and family’ too, and having the determination to stick it out and try just to turn in my name, I guess those people were not sacrificing enough from their friends and family and jobs.

Posted by Hawk on 12/02/2007 at 4:01 PM

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